Federal administrative court: a20 plans illegal

Federal Administrative Court: A20 plans illegal

The Federal Administrative Court has put the brakes on further construction of the Autobahn 20 in Schleswig-Holstein. The associated zoning decision for a 19.9-kilometer section from the A7 to Wittenborn (Segeberg district) was “unlawful and unenforceable”.

The environmental associations BUND and Nabu (Az.: 9 A 8.17). A second lawsuit filed by a landowner couple has been temporarily suspended.

The federal judges have reservations about the project, particularly with regard to water and species protection laws. The planning was “free of errors in considerable parts – but not completely,” said presiding judge Wolfgang Bier in his ruling. The planners of the responsible state ministry in Kiel must now make improvements.

“This is not a nice day, this is bitter,” said Schleswig-Holstein’s Minister President Daniel Gunther (CDU). The decision means further delays of two to three years in the affected section. The A20 is not to be completed before 2030, he said. “We simply have to work better and cleaner in the future.”

One sticking point is European water law. The review of the so-called water law deterioration ban by the planners fell considerably short of the requirements, it was said. The fish fauna in the waters affected by the highway construction, for example, had not been sufficiently assessed. In detail: How the chloride contamination by de-icing salt is developing was only explained in the oral proceedings in Leipzig at the beginning of November.

The judges saw errors in terms of species protection law, especially with regard to the bat hibernation site “Segeberger Kalkberghohle”. He said that was significant across Europe, 30.000 animals hibernated there. The impact of highway construction should have been studied in an impact assessment, the Senate complained.

Gesa Volkl, head of the Office for Traffic Planning at the Ministry of Economics in Kiel, was nevertheless pleased with the Leipzig ruling. A large part of the planning had been confirmed. “There are very few small areas where we need to improve,” she said. Volkl was unable to estimate how long the additions to the plan would last.

Schleswig-Holstein’s BUND regional director Ole Eggers also considered the ruling a success. The court had followed the water and species protection concerns of the conservationists. It could be a landmark decision for the further A20 sections.